April 23, 2015

Have a Gossip Buddy

Gossip

Ah, office gossip! Sometimes it seems like the only reason to go to work.

And I don’t think I”m alone in finding scurrilous joy on hearing a delicious bit of scandal outside the work environment. After all, I don’t know too many people who don’t perk up on hearing, “Have you heard….???” Do you?

That said, we all know on some level that, used unwisely, gossip really is one of the tools of the devil: one that leaves both the speaker and the recipient feeling— and this, I believe, is the technical term—icky.

So what to do?

There are, of course, those people who claim they never gossip. And you could try that. But frankly, I don’t believe them. (To me that statement is right up there with people who say they never fight with their partner— all I’m doing at that point is looking to see if their pants are on fire and their nose is as long as a telephone wire.)

Why? Because gossip can be fun. It can liven up an otherwise dull day. It can make you feel powerful. It can offer a distraction. And, in some cases, it even provides important information. It has its downsides for sure, but it also has its uses.

Given that, how can we use gossip wisely? In a way that we retain the benefits and sidestep the ick factor?

I don’t know what you’ve come up with, but today I’m writing to suggest getting yourself a gossip buddy.

What does a gossip buddy do? Well, Wikipedia defines the buddy system as follows: “In adventurous or dangerous activities, where the buddies are often required, the main benefit of the system is improved safety; each may be able to prevent the other becoming a casualty or rescue the other in a crisis.”

This seems perfect to me. Anointing one chum a gossip buddy means that you can retain all the ephemeral/ridiculous “benefits” of gossip—you have a safety valve—but you confine the danger. You will not become a casualty, and you can rescue your buddy in a similar crisis.

So, fly and be free: gossip to your heart’s content! But buddy up before you do.

Frances Cole Jones

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